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News Release

New Framework Guides Conservation Action on America’s Central and Eastern Grasslands and Savannas

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has unveiled a new plan to help guide voluntary conservation work over the next five years across 25 states, including over 7 million acres of new conservation practices on productive, working lands, and will contribute to the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to make our nation a leader on climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience.  

The plan will accelerate voluntary conservation efforts for the Northern bobwhite quail and the grassland and savanna landscapes that the species calls home. This plan, the Northern Bobwhite, Grasslands and Savannas Framework for Conservation Action, outlines how USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will work with agricultural producers and partners like Quail Forever to increase adoption of targeted conservation practices that are good for farmers, ranchers, the bobwhite and natural resources. This framework leverages conservation efforts on working lands and supports the Biden Administration’s America the Beautiful initiative.  

“When we manage for bobwhite habitat, we’re creating healthier forests and forage, which is good for livestock producers, landowners, and natural resources,” NRCS Chief Terry Cosby said. “This new framework builds on what we know – that America’s agricultural producers using conservation practices are helping declining species like the bobwhite while also providing food and fiber and conserving our resources for future generations. In the face of climate change, as well as habitat loss and fragmentation, expanding efforts to conserve landscapes and wildlife communities is more important than ever.”

“Quail Forever recognizes the need to help landowners build farming systems that match profitability with ecological performance; supporting the bottom line of farmers and ranchers while contributing to a habitat mosaic that creates positive gains for bobwhite quail and other species,” said Ron Leathers, Chief Conservation Officer for Quail Forever. “To that end, we’re proud to partner with the United States Department of Agriculture in this endeavor and look forward to assisting producers with the implementation of working lands programs that provide incredible gains for wildlife, water quality, farm profitability, climate resiliency, and soil health.”

The framework:  

  • Reduces threats, like drought and wildfire, to grassland and savanna landscapes that northern bobwhite and other species call home.
  • Establishes native warm season grasses to reduce erosion, recharge aquifers and supplement forage during summer slump periods.
  • Focuses on key conservation practices, including prescribed grazing, brush management, prescribed burning, herbaceous weed treatment, forage and biomass planting, contour buffer strips and forest stand improvement.
  • Leverages support from partners like Quail Forever to help producers with planning and implementing practices.
  • Monitors and measures the response of northern bobwhite and other wildlife species through the Northern Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) and Quail Forever.  
  • Develops landscape-wide models to track wildlife and economic outcomes by researchers at the University of Georgia and Mississippi State University.
  • Develops outcomes assessments that include quantifying tons of carbon stored because of conservation efforts to mitigate harmful greenhouse gases.

NRCS recognizes the importance of frameworks that are driven by local species and habitats and empower producers and landowners to drive conservation strategies at the local level. In 2021, NRCS also released action-based frameworks to increase conservation work to benefit both agriculture and wildlife in sagebrush and grassland landscapes of the western United States. 

How Landowners Can Get Involved

Farmers, ranchers and private landowners in the central and eastern regions can work with NRCS to implement conservation practices on their working lands, including those that further this new framework. To learn more, they should contact their local USDA Service Center.

Conservation at USDA

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through voluntary conservation practices and partnerships, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including State, local and Tribal governments.

For more information, contact the NRCS at your local USDA Service Center. On farmers.gov, you can create a secure account, apply for NRCS programs, electronically sign documents and manage your conservation contracts.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.
 

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